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May 2012

National Dog Bite Prevention Week May 20-26

Dog bites, from nips to attacks, are a serious problem in the U.S.  

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) hosts this year's National Dog Bite Prevention Week to help stop the nearly 5 million dog bites that happen every year.

The WVMA encourages you to read the tips below, provided by the AVMA, to educate yourself and your family on how to prevent dog bites. 

 Did you know that...

  • 4.7 million people in this country are bitten by dogs every year
  • children are by far the most common victims
  • 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites each year
  • children are far more likely to be severely injured; approximately 400,000 receive medical attention every year
  • most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs
  • senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims

There are a number of things that you can do to avoid dog bites, ranging from properly training and socializing your pet to educating your children on how, or if, they should approach a dog.  

Information is one of the best cures for this public health crisis.

What's a dog owner to do?

  • Carefully select your pet. Puppies should not be obtained on impulse.
  • Make sure your pet is socialized as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
  • Don't put your dog in a position where it feels threatened or teased.
  • Train your dog. The basic commands "sit," "stay," "no," and "come" help dogs understand what is expected of them and can be incorporated into fun activities that build a bond of trust between pets and people.
  • Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep it healthy and provide mental stimulation.
  • Avoid highly excitable games like wrestling or tug-of-war.
  • Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog.
  • Keep your dog healthy. Have your dog vaccinated against rabies and preventable infectious diseases. Parasite control and other health care are important because how your dog feels affects how it behaves.
  • Neuter your pet.
  • If you have a fenced yard, make sure the gates are secure.

How can you protect your family?

  • Be cautious around strange dogs, and treat your own pet with respect. Because children are the most common victims of dog bites, parents and caregivers should:
    • Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
    • Be alert for potentially dangerous situations.
    • Teach their children - including toddlers - to be careful around pets. Children must learn not to approach strange dogs or try to pet dogs through fences. Teach children to ask permission from the dog's owner before petting the dog.

Dog Bite Emergencies

If you are bitten by a dog, here is a checklist of things you should do:

  • If the dog's owner is present, request proof of rabies vaccination, and get the owner's name and contact information.
  • Clean bite wound with soap and water as soon as possible.
  • Consult your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if it's after office hours.
  • Contact the dog's veterinarian to check vaccination records. 

For additional information on dog bite prevention, visit www.avma.org/public_health/dogbite.

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